Thursday, August 2, 2012
I didn’t start cycling until late morning on the second day.
Not because I was too tired (surprisingly), but it just seemed to take ages to get going and also the ageing computer in the hotel made getting my blog post done rather hard work.
The fan was so loud I was convinced it was about to blow up.
When I did get going I headed straight for the Rhine and picked up the cycle track, just behind a cyclist on a recumbent bike. No matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t keep up with him on the tarmac, and it was only when we hit a dirt track section that I was able to overtake as this really slowed him down.
This game of cat and mouse continued for around an hour as the surface kept changing from rough to smooth, until finally I had to make a short stop to adjust my front mudgard. I’d just passed an elderly lady walking her dog, and when the recumbent came through around 30 seconds behind me something strange happened.
He started barking really loudly at the woman and her dog!
I feel a bit better about not being able to keep up (having now read that recumbent bikes are faster than normal ones), although I think I’ll always be slightly wary of the people who ride them.
I made good progress and reached Vaduz in just under two hours (39km) where I stopped for a pleasant lunch and took on some more fluids. It had been very hot and hydration was clearly going to be the main challenge for the day.
It wasn’t until I left Vaduz that I realised the signposts on the east bank were different, and on closer inspection realised that I was actually in Lichtenstein when I had lunch in Vaduz.
It wasn’t to be the last time that day that I would have benefited from having a map.
I carried on up the Lichtenstein side of the river until I reached a sign telling me I was in Austria, at which point I decided enough was enough and crossed back over to Switzerland at the next opportunity. I’d already crossed over two international borders without showing my passport so I didn’t want to push my luck, and all the way up the river from there I could see that border controls were very definitely operational.
At lunchtime I’d decided I would push on as far as Rorschach on Lake Constance, which an email from mission control had confirmed as being another 59km, thus completing my 100km for the day.
I should have read the email more closely.
Had I done I would have realised that the distances referred to drivetime, and in fact the road cut off a large corner of my route. I’d been averaging a pretty consistent 20kmph on the flat, so in the end when I finally reached Rorschach I was able to put a fairly accurate estimate of the distance together – about 80km from Vaduz.
The town itself ended up being a nice place to break the journey, and I had dinner and a couple of beers on the ‘seafront’ with a view looking out over the lake while I watched the firework displays for Swiss National Day.
It was also Yorkshire Day so a double celebration for me.
I’ve been rediscovering some long forgotten German, and today I re-learnt the word for large beer – ‘grosse bier’. Though given the state of the computers in the hotels I am staying in, perhaps learning how to say ‘your internet facilities are rubbish’ would be more appropriate.
So once again, I am struggling to upload photos.
Statistics for the day:
Distance, 119km (estimated)
7 hours total (6 hours ride time)
Total distance covered, 214km (ave. 107km per day)
I remember this day being really, really hot.
There was no shade at all for most of the way and I suffered for it. I ran out of water miles from anywhere and was parched by the time I finally found a petrol station and drank 3 litres of water.
When I reached my hotel my pee was still the darkest I’ve ever seen it. I put a big focus on hydration after that, but it was still a constant battle with the heat and relentless sun.
I also managed to get sunburn on the back of my hands.
I think the first bit might be a bit hilly
Day 2 – Chur to Rorschach and lunching in Lichtenstein
Day 3 – Rorschach to Shaffhausen and the need for professional help
Day 4 – Schaffausen to Basel and the end of the Swiss section
Day 6 – Strasbourg to Karlsruhe
Day 7 – Karlsruhe to Goddelau and more getting lost
Day 8 – Goddelau to Koblenz on a spoke and a prayer
Day 9 – Koblenz to Cologne, the day I hit the wall
Day 10 – moving North from Cologne
Day 11 – Nijmegen to Gorinchem, clogging it along the dijks
Day 12-13 Gronichem to Hoek van Holland and the end of the Rhine
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